Twitter. Only 140 characters and yet endless opportunities; that’s what seems to be the case with several creative startups and some curious individuals using the micro-blogging social network’s data for surprisingly varied and innovative uses. Twitter, with its real-time global reach and localised and open source data, provides a rich bed for fertile ideas to grow from. Here we provide a list of Twitter’s most creative and inventive uses, from the quirky to the ingenious.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan serialised her latest novel via the Twitter account @NYerFiction. The novel was written with 140 characters or less in mind, each new part released via the micro-blogging site. Egan says she decided to publish her latest thriller ‘Black Box’ via this medium “because of the intimacy of reaching people through their phones, and because of the odd poetry that can happen in 140 characters.
Digital and indie music blog Hypebot recently described Twitter as a “ridiculously-constrained communications medium”, while highlighting that its simplicity coupled with its breadth of reach and real-time immediacy lends itself rather brilliantly to new music video releases. Blur will be releasing their new track via the social network this coming Tuesday in an innovative stunt, forgoing the traditional radio station exclusive, or even Youtube or Soundcloud premier we’ve come to expect. Hypebot reported:
“Next Monday, July 2, Blur will become “the first” band to play a live show on Twitter. By that, the band means that it will commandeer a rooftop a la the Beatles at a secret location within London, and tweet links on @blurofficial so that people can watch them play two new songs in real-time, also commenting on the experience within Twitter.”
This style of release shows a growing trend towards Twitter being used as a first port of call for fan exclusives. In this vein, Vexed’s in–house project @Twickets cuts out tout’s markups and long searches across internet message boards for fans of music, sport and events to match make those with tickets spare and those in need.
High Fashion Previews
As mentioned before in the Vexed blog, Louis Vuitton has been leading the way for high-end fashion houses to embrace the new democratic reach of social networking versus the old model of exclusivity and exclusion of fans to events. Followers of Vuitton’s Twitter accounts have been treated to previews of new collections backstage before the creations have walked the catwalk at their legendary shows, thus bypassing the front row for the best view.
For those who tweet more regularly than they do housework or errands, the last few years have seen a spate of ingenious startups and projects that look to utilise Twitter for real-life tasks. Take Botanicalls, a service that started on Twitter that notifies plant owners when their green friends need a water, and even sends them a thank you from the plant once its been fed, in a project aiming to create “new avenues of interaction” between plants and humans. Very ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.
A designer named Mike Bodge created the first clock ‘Chirp Clock’ which harvests tweets to determine the time instead of using the traditional gears or digital numbers while elsewhere Twitter can even shut your PC down remotely via TweetMyPC.
Twitter can, of course, be massively useful as a database too, where contacts the world over, or alternatively within a niche group or location, can be amassed. Twitter is great for location-specific news and problem solving, via various accounts such as @anwers and also serves as a huge wealth of information that can be searched via services such as Tweetscan.
Twitter as Customer Service or Helpdesks
Another growing trend is one where big brands use Twitter to solve problems and connect with customers to provide a friendlier, more effective platform for customer service. One of our client’s, Domino’s Pizza, is a leading light in this field, marrying their Technical Team with their Social Media Marketing team to better understand their customer’s experience of their digital products and answer issues more efficiently. Paul Francis talks about this here.